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Cassette Beasts | Game Review | The Millenials Are At It Again

Experience the nostalgia - infused world of Cassette Beasts, a captivating game that combines Pokemon, Zelda, and anime elements. Join Bytten Studio on an unforgettable journey through New Wirral!

Cassette Beasts Start Screen Cassette Beasts Start Screen

 Check out this review in video form!



Codependence on Nostalgia. Inability to purchase a house. A general distaste for capitalism...

Avocado toast.

These are all things those of us born in the 90s are known for these days. These are the talking points older generations unfailingly fall back on when they scornfully, sneeringly refer to us by the label placed upon us: Millennials.

Relax, I’m not here to debate the positives or negatives of an entire generation. Instead, I’m here to celebrate the kind of creativity and art that can be created by the kids who grew up on the first generation of Pokemon, analog media, and some of the most influential anime of all time.

This is a review of Cassette Beasts.

A Dynamic Duo

Cassette Beasts Bytten Studio

Cassette Beasts was developed by Bytten Studio and Published by Raw Fury. Bytten Studio hasn’t made a name for itself quite like Raw Fury (the publisher of the Kingdom series, Sable, and NORCO), but they will at this rate.

Bytten Studio is a two-man operation, with Tom Coxon on the keys (coding), and Jay Bayliss handling the art and writing. The first game created by the studio, Lenna’s Inception, is a nostalgia-infused romp with a modern twist, which takes on the guise of a classic dungeon crawler that looks and plays an awful lot like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. With Cassette Beasts, they’ve just about cemented their formula of “make the old new again,” and they are very good at what they do.

If they keep up this streak and consistently one-up the quality of their projects, I can see them quickly becoming a studio of renown, if their work on Cassette Beasts hasn’t done that for them already.

Wormholes and Cassette Players

Cassette Beasts Character Creator

Cassette Beasts’ charm is apparent right from the get-go. It opens with a delightful character creator in which you name and customize your own sprite avatar, and then you’re whisked away to a dimension entirely unlike our own through a wormhole.

Cassette Beasts New Wirral

When you awaken, you find that you’ve been transported to the world of New Wirral, a place where 120 Pokemon-like creatures roam the vast open world, and people called Rangers harness their powers to do battle. Each of the titular Beasts straddles the line between familiarity and uniqueness, with Pokemon-like charm causing them to be immediately endearing.

Cassette Beasts Traffikrab

As if that wasn’t enough, New Wirral is also some kind of purgatory that nobody has ever escaped from.

As far as Pokemon clones go, a genre that seems to have exploded in recent years, this is a pretty creative setup. There aren’t any ball-like capture devices, rather the Rangers use special cassette players (a real thing that existed many years ago) to “record” the creatures and assume their form.

Cassette Beasts Record

That’s right, you don’t “capture” the monsters in Cassette Beasts, you become them. This approach successfully avoids the dog-fighting comparisons that are frequently leveled at Pokemon games and allows for some interesting narrative twists down the road.

In terms of combat, each of your Cassette Beasts has its own health bar as you’d expect, but there’s also a twist in that the Ranger characters have their own separate health bar. Beasts’ health bars being reduced to zero allows you to keep going with another, but the Rangers’ health bars being depleted means you’ll be sent back to a safe point before the fight.

Battles rarely get that difficult, especially when you learn to make use of the game’s complex weakness and domino effect systems.

Cause and Effect

Cassette Beasts First Battle

What do I mean by domino effect? Well, in Cassette Beasts, there’s much more to consider than the typical wheel of weaknesses (Grass types are weak to fire, fire is weak to water, etc.).

When battling against the fourteen different elemental types of Cassette Beasts, there are extra things to consider, and Beasts can even transition from one element to another. Using a fire attack on a plastic-type Beast will cause it to transform into a toxic-type one, and a subsequent attack would ignite the Beast for extra damage.

The list of chemistry effects goes on and on, and they come up organically if you take a few seconds to consider your moves and what you’re up against. It’s a really interesting twist on a system that so many people are intimately familiar with.

A Hint of Anime

There’s a running joke in certain circles that everything goes back to Evangelion. Not just anime or animation in general, but everything. Movies, video games, anything that has the capacity to do something interesting with a narrative or visual representation.

You don’t notice these things until you’ve seen the original series, but… well, just look at this:

Cassette Beasts Archangel

This is one of Cassette Beasts' “Archangels”, not to be confused with the Angels of Evangelion. These extra-dimensional beings completely ignore the natural laws and visual design of New Wirral, and play a big part in the game’s narrative.

There are eight of them total to defeat before you can “escape” New Wirral and hit the end credits, and each one you meet is more unsettling than the last. How does a PS1 polygonal 3D goat creature with a snake wrapped around its waist sit with you in your 2D sprite game? How about a Cuphead-like 50s-style animated monstrosity? A ransom note come to life? They’re all here, and it’s awesome.

To take on these beings, you have another anime-inspired mechanic: fusion. Without so much as a Dragon Ball “fuuuuu-sion! HAAAA!!!”The protagonist can fuse its current Cassette Beast form with that of a partner to create a Beast strong enough to fight an Archangel. The resulting fusion always has the movesets of both Beasts as well as their combined stats.

Fusion also becomes a major narrative beat, as the act of fusion means the two who are fused create an unbreakable bond. Since, you know, they were basically inside of each other. It’s not played for a joke or innuendo, rather it's used to create opportunities for more nuanced characters and relationships, much the same way as fusion was used in Steven Universe.

Cassette Beasts Fusion

So, between Evangelion, Dragon Ball, and Pokemon, Cassette Beasts plays and presents itself as a millennial’s greatest hits of the 90s. And that’s just great.

(Don’t) Gotta Catch ‘Em All

Cassette Beasts Starter

As awesome as the world, mechanics, and characters of Cassette Beasts are, the cracks in the facade begin to show after just a few hours.

As many different Beasts as there are, I never felt the need to “catch ‘em all”. Once I had a pretty good team that could cover just about any situation, I didn’t really feel the need to record any more of them to add to my collection. Others might feel different, and I know there’s a high associated with ticking off boxes and collecting every piece of a set in just about anything, but I wish there was more incentive to collect all of the Beasts outside of that surface-level satisfaction.

The Beginning of Something Great

Cassette Beasts Beach

Overall, I found the twenty-or-so hours I spent in Cassette Beasts to be very enjoyable. It felt like it was made explicitly for people like me, aging Pokemon fans who have become despondent with the series due to its inability to innovate, and that was enough to keep me engaged when the battles began to feel samey and sloggish.

The concept and polish of the finished product speak well for Bytten Studio, and I’m excited to see what they do next. Especially if they’re going to tackle another classic game with their signature style.

Final Score: 9/10

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